UK limits access to grace period allowing EU citizens to secure right to stay

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LONDON — EU citizens living in the U.K. without a job may struggle to make use of a grace period to secure their status after Brexit.

The U.K. Home Office last year agreed to create a grace period of six months after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31 to allow European Economic Area and Swiss nationals more time to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, which guarantees their ongoing rights in the U.K.

According to U.K. draft legislation regulating this period, economically active people from the EEA and Switzerland will continue to be considered lawful residents in the U.K. during those months, and for as long as their application to the scheme is being reviewed by the Home Office, even if it is not resolved until after the planned deadline of June 30, 2021.

However, economically inactive people, such as students, pensioners and those who have lost their job, might have a harder time if they have not already secured settled status. Under the Home Office’s draft plan, this group would be advised to take up comprehensive sickness insurance by December 31, 2020, even if they intend to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme eventually.

Once the Brexit transition ends, economically inactive people who do not hold private comprehensive sickness insurance will not be considered lawfully resident in the U.K. until such time that they are granted a status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

“The U.K. government missed an important opportunity to demonstrate how much they want to protect EU citizens and their family members”

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